CAPS meeting dominated by noise complaints

By Jesse Wright | Staff Writer

Published September 4, 2018

At the August Community Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) meeting in the 001st District, Sgt. Anthony Dombrowski announced new options for homeless residents in the area.

Dombrowski said some of the shelters will now admit pets as well as people who are intoxicated and who would otherwise be tossed out of other shelters. One new shelter, operated by the Franciscan Outreach program, is specifically for people on Lower Wacker in the downtown area.

Meanwhile, area residents complained about bucket boys and the noise they make, playing buckets for tips from tourists.

Dombrowski said if people are bothered by noise, they should call police because regular patrol officers are not always there to enforce noise restrictions without a complaint.

“You should call 911 and say that there is a noise disturbance and you want to be a complainant and speak to a police officer [in person], because you can’t be a complainant over the phone.”

Upgrades coming to Lakeshore East Park

By Angela Gagnon | Staff Writer

Published September 4, 2018

After complaints of graffiti, vandalism and general wear and tear at Lakeshore East Park, repairs are finally coming.

According to a letter from the Office of Alderman Brendan Reilly, Magellan Development Group, the park’s developer, have long term improvements planned. These include replacing the play area surface material in the tot lot and new playground equipment that will offer more activities for children of all ages.

Gabby Hart, the director of planning and development for Reilly’s office, confirmed the plans. “Plans are in place for full replacement of the playground surface and upgrades to the playground equipment are planned as well,” Hart said.

Hart said the tot lot will be closed when repairs are being made, but will otherwise remain open throughout the project.

Repairs to the surface area are already underway. The other improvements are expected to take place over the next few months and be completed by the end of the year.

SOAR serving lunch to first responders, Streeterville

By Jesse Wright | Staff Writer

September 4, 2018

Once again, the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents (SOAR) is preparing for its annual First Responders Appreciation Day. The event will be held Sept. 13, from 11 a.m.–2 p.m. at the Chicago Fire Department Engine Company 98, 202 E. Chicago Ave.

Bob Johnson, chairman of the safety and sound management taskforce for SOAR, said the event is a way to give back to the men and women who keep the neighborhood safe.

“The organization wanted to give thanks to our firefighters and our police officers and our paramedics who serve the community,” he explained. “We think they do a terrific job.”

In addition to the public luncheon, SOAR will deliver sandwiches from Timothy O’Toole’s Pub to the 18th Precinct District at 10 p.m. to recognize the overnight shift workers.

This year, the event moved from the Lakeshore Field House to a fire station two blocks west. Johnson said in prior years, getting the firefighters to go to an offsite location and then sit down for a meal could be tricky, especially if a fire broke out.

“The firefighters never got a chance to attend the event because they’d walk in, get a bite of food and then get called out,” he said.

However, Johnson said the event is for the community and not just for first responders.“Just show up,” he said. “Come as you are.”

Johnson said that while a local alderman or congressman might stop in, the lunch is less a political event as it is a way to build community.

“We just think it would be nice for our first responders to get to know our people and for our people to get to know them.”

Johnson said the lunch has been an event for years, and is something of a tradition in Streeterville.

“I think it was done shortly after the 9/11 [ceremonies], as a way to remember the 343 firefighters killed in 9/11,” he said. “It’s a time of year we think of them more so than during the rest of the year.”

For more information, visit the SOAR website, soarchicago.org.

Who says New Eastside’s not a real neighborhood?

“We are New Eastside, proud and strong. From Randolph Street to Wacker Drive, Michigan Avenue to the Lakefront— and we are getting bigger and better all the time.” – Jon Cohn

By Tom Conroy | Staff Writer

A recent article in Chicago Magazine highlighted several neighborhoods they deemed “straight-up fake,” claiming that “real estate [executives] toss around fictionalized neighborhood names with abandon.”

New Eastside, which joined Tally’s Corner, NoCa and Noble Square on the list, was described as being part of Streeterville. The magazine claimed New Eastside has little legitimacy because it is interchangeably referred to as Lakeshore East and River East.

While the magazine could not be reached for comment, several members of the community had something to say about the story:

“Streeterville and the New Eastside are separated by the Chicago River. Rivers are
dividing geographical markers like the Rio Grande and the Mississippi, so it really is a bold claim to make that Streeterville is New Eastside.

New Eastside is often considered part of the Loop, but the ‘L’ train that makes the Loop is not that close to us, because we are located east of Michigan Ave., another big dividing road. It’s the unique concentration of residential towers around a six-acre Lake Shore East Park, that makes the area feel like a real neighborhood within the city. I have never heard the place called River East.” — Elaine Hyde, editor of New Eastside News

“We got [Google] to add the New Eastside label to our very defined neighborhood by sharing the heading of the neighborhood website—neweastside.org, created in 1999—including a picture and reference to the dozen official city signs that have survived the elements and still identify our 1981 Illinois incorporated, non-profit New Eastside identity.”
— Richard Ward, president of the New Eastside Association of Residents

“Apparently, local real estate executives are getting a bit confused with the vast
growing array of Chicago neighborhoods, each with their own catchy name. Now, we can understand the confusion, but c’mon folks. The area Chicago Magazine listed as the New Eastside or Lakeshore East was described as ‘a plot of high rises at the mouth of the Chicago River, north of Millenium Park and south of Illinois Street. That is not us. That’s Streeterville!”

“Streeterville is close by and has a grand tradition of its own here in Chicago.
But let’s get it right, boys and girls. Our beloved New Eastside is just developing its
identity. We have our set boundaries, too. We don’t need to be caught in the shadows of our older brother just to the north. “We are New Eastside, proud and strong. From Randolph Street to Wacker Drive, Michigan Avenue to the Lakefront — and we are getting bigger and better all the time.” — Jon Cohn, community contributor to New Eastside News

The New Eastside community has spoken, and they are proud to identify with this neighborhood. It might behoove Chicago Magazine to have a conversation with neighborhood residents before they deliver their damning proclamations from up on high.

Shopping carts wreak havoc at condos

By Jesse Wright | Staff Writer

The carts keep coming.

And, at the Tides, that’s a problem.

On any given day, New Eastside residents leave as many as 10 to 15 empty Mariano’s shopping carts outside the door of the 360 E. South Water St. apartment building, according to Tides doorman John King.

“They have them all over the place, making the place look cheap,” King said.

King isn’t alone in his criticism. “I’ve seen them accumulated outside our building—it just looks horrible, to be honest,” said Tina Moutzouros, the assistant business manager at the Tides.

Some residents want to take the carts even further. “Sometimes they want to bring the whole cart upstairs as well, which is definitely not acceptable,” she said. “We have our own carts and if they need help they can ask for them.”

Moutzouros said the Tides’ sister building, the Shoreham, has the same problem.

The two buildings sit opposite Mariano’s, separated by Lake Shore East Park, an easy distance on foot. “It’s a convenience for residents,” Moutzouros said. “But if they take them they should be taking them back, which isn’t happening.”

While Mariano’s displays signs asking customers to keep the carts on site, shoppers of the Lakeshore East location seem to ignore the signs. Moutzouros said the Tides does not have a policy explicitly banning carts from the front of the building, but she wants the grocery store to send its employees to collect the carts more often.

Amanda Puck, a spokesperson for Mariano’s, said the store is willing to help out and the store has given phone numbers to all the door people at nearby apartments.

“We love being part of the community and we try to be proactive in getting the carts back to the store,” Puck said. “If anyone needs us to do that, they are welcome to give us a call.”

Puck explained that during slow hours, stores will send employees out to retrieve carts, even the ones left in front of apartments. But Moutzouros said this isn’t happening as often as it needs to.

“Craig, one of our concierges, he has been in contact with one of the managers. He said he was sending somebody from Mariano’s to go around and collect the carts,” she said. “But it doesn’t seem to be happening as often as it should.”

Published August 1, 2018

Visitors have a hoot with Wings and Talons

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

Published July 31, 2018

For the most part, unless you go out at night,  you’ll miss the raptors on patrol downtown, swooping down to catch prey right in Chicago’s front yard.

But, a few times each summer, the team at Wings and Talons brings a few rehabilitated birds to Lurie Garden for free daytime shows they call Raptors! wherein garden visitors can learn about the habits of these birds.

Wings and Talons is a non-profit based in the northwest suburbs that provides care and shelter for raptors that can’t survive on their own. The group also supports education, wildlife stewardship and conservation. The organization, which calls these birds “nature’s fighter jets,” was founded in 2016 by a group of volunteers who share a passion for educating the public about birds of prey.

Currently in their care are a male and female red-tailed hawk, an eastern screech owl, a great horned owl, a barred owl, an American kestrel, a broad-winged hawk and a turkey vulture. 

This barred owl was on hand to wow crowds at the July Raptors! event in Lurie Garden. The group Wings and Talons will return Aug. 14. Photo by Taylor Hartz.

On July 10, Wings and Talons brought the male red-tailed hawk, the eastern screech owl, the barred owl, and the broad-winged hawk to Lurie Garden and set up shop.

With the skyline towering above, volunteers stood in a grassy area with the birds perched on their hands, ready to educate folks who wandered through the garden and those who came specifically to check out the birds.

For these events, there is no sign-up, no ticketing and no formal talk. Rather, visitors simply walk up to the volunteers and ask whatever questions they like.

“We like educating people because the more they know about these birds the more they know about what’s living right around their neighborhoods,” said volunteer Larry Devera, with a red-tailed hawk perched on his arm. “These could be living right in your backyard.”

Red-tailed hawks live in our area, but others, like the broad winged hawk, made quite the journey to end up in Illinois.

This bird migrates in flocks known as kettles all the way to South America each year, preying on frogs, toads and small rodents, or even other birds, invertebrates and bigger reptiles.

The female hawk at Lurie Garden came to Wings and Talons from the Carolina Raptor Center due to a wing injury.

Coming up on her second birthday, the red-tailed hawk came to Wings and Talons after suffering head trauma from hitting a window in 2016. She injured her eye and can no longer hunt but if she could, Illinois would provide the perfect environment.

“In the Midwest it’s very common for them to swell in forests or by the water,” said volunteer Christine Richtor-Duff,  “We just don’t see them much because they come out at night.”

But even though these birds are adapted to live in the urban environment, they did not start off that way.

“There are a lot of theories about what they evolved from,” said Richtor-Duff. The most common theory is they evolved from dinosaurs.

“There are so many similarities in talons and bone structure to dinosaurs like velociraptors,” said Richtor Duff.

Other birds, like owls and vultures, have been in their present form for quite some time, without adapting or changing much over the course of human history.

Guests were able to get a close-up look at a black-eyed barred owl. The 11-year-old bird was not injured, but imprinted on humans at a young age, and was therefore unable to return to the wild.

Also on hand was a small eastern screech owl on a perch near the group’s information table. This little bird, standing about five inches high, isn’t native to the area, but is nearly identical to the western screech owl, which can be found throughout Illinois.

Lakeshore East Regatta resident Bill Evans came to check out the birds with his 9-year-old daughter, Brielle Evans.

Brielle, a fourth-grader at Ogden International School, is a huge fan of owls. She was even carrying a colorful owl shaped purse as she checked out the birds.

Her love of the birds is in part due to her school — the mascot at Ogden is the owl. The Evans family are also members of the nearby University Club, which also uses the owl as its mascot.

Bill thought the display from Wings and Talons was a great way to bring nature and wildlife into the heart of the city.

“I think it’s wonderful to have such an educational thing here in the city,” said Evans, “Especially for kids who don’t have access to the wild; it creates an awareness for them.”

Wings and Talons will return to the Lurie Garden for another session of Raptors! On Aug. 14 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

 

Go like a pro to Millennium Park’s summer events

By Julie Whitehair | Community Contributor

Published July 4, 2018

Millennium Park is a hub of summer entertainment for tourists and Chicago- ans alike. From free movies to ticketed concerts, Millennium—and its Jay Pritzker Pavilion—often draws a crowd. Here’s how to enjoy the park’s performances like a pro.

Get there early

Make sure to get to Millennium Park well before the performance starts—the general admission lawn fills up fast for the park’s most hyped shows. Definitely don’t arrive
late, or you might end up sitting on the hard concrete ground for the rest of the night. Keep an eye on the park’s Twitter account @Millennium_Park for updates, incase the crowd reaches capacity.

Bring refreshments—but check if alcohol is allowed at your event

Food and non-alcoholic beverages are always allowed at Jay Pritzker Pavilion, but a few events prohibit any outdoor alcohol. You can check which days alcohol is prohibited at the City of Chicago’s website and expect officials to check bags at the entrance—the city’s placing a new security perimeter and bag check for all events at the pavilion this summer.

As for food, some visitors pick up sandwiches for a snack, while others bring a full-on spread—tiny tables, gourmet cheese platters and all. Just make sure any coolers are smaller than 26 inches long, 15 inches wide and 15 inches in height and avoid bringing metal knives or cutlery in order to adhere to the park’s guidelines listed on
their website.

Pick a spot to meet ahead of
time

Meeting up with friends can be difficult when they’re giving vague directions to where they’re sitting. Avoid this by meeting outside the park or designating a spot near a notable location ahead of time—don’t be the person obnoxiously standing and waving in the crowd right before a show begins.

Advisory Council formed to oversee DuSable Park development

By B. David Zarley, Staff Writer

May 31, 2018

 

The DuSable Park Advisory Council was officially formed on May 9 in the Lake Shore Park field house – marking another promising step in the star-crossed history of the park’s development.

Members of the newly former DuSable Park Advisory Council (l-r: Dr. Serge JC Pierre-Louis, Russell Lewis, Fhaeem Majeed, Peggy Montes) meet in the field-house of Lake Shore Park during the formation meeting on May 9, 2018. Photo by Gené Moreno.

 

The parcel of land between the entrance of the Ogden Slip and the mouth of the Chicago River was designated as DuSable Park in 1987 by Mayor Harold Washington, but the plan never developed. A separate plan by the Park District to turn the spot into an outdoor parking lot in 2000 galvanized the formation of the DuSable Park Coalition, some of whose members are now part of the new DuSable Park Advisory Council (PAC). High levels of radioactive thorium from the former operations of the Lindsay Light Company delayed progress.

“We’ve been working at this for almost two decades,” said Dr. Serge JC Pierre-Louis, president of the DuSable Heritage Association and chair of the DuSable Park Coalition, while speaking to the assembled stakeholders. Attendees included Streeterville residents, SOAR, members of Friends of DuSable, the Bronzeville Children’s Museum, Alderman Reilly’s office, the Floating Museum and representatives from other local PACs.

Peggy Montes of the Bronzeville Children’s Museum motioned to form the DuSable Park Advisory Council at the evening meeting, with Russell Lewis of Friends of DuSable seconding. With support from several new members, the PAC was officially formed.

The new PAC is made up of 11 members –Montes, Lewis, Pierre-Louis, Paul Montes, Robert Starks, Dave and Carol Hinman, Faheem Majeed, Mario Holleman, Gail Spreen and Bernie Jacobs.

For the Hinmans, two Streeterville residents who live adjacent to the proposed park site, membership in the advisory council marks the first time they have joined a park organization.“We’re really excited,” Carol Hinman said. “In fact, when we bought there we thought ‘oh, someday we’ll have a park right there.’”

Local pubs to open early for World Cup fans

By Matthew Reiss | Community Contributor

With soccer’s World Cup returning June 14, all eyes will be glued to TV screens around the
country—despite the U.S. team’s shockingly early exit from the tournament.

Over three billion people worldwide watched the 2014 Brazil World Cup, with public viewings in Chicago set up in Grant Park and Soldier Field drawing tens of thousands of local fans.

This year, without the U.S. team to root for and with the games primarily airing in the morning due to the time difference with host country Russia, it will be more difficult for soccer fans, such as myself, to find public venues to watch games.

But never fear—for the truly dedicated fan, there are still ways to get your World Cup fix in Chicago.

Fado Irish Pub, 100 W. Grand Ave., has been a hotspot for European soccer league coverage, and will be opening its doors early for each and every World Cup match. They are also available to book for group watch parties.

Upscale sports bar Theory, 9 W. Hubbard St., is also committing to World Cup coverage. Managing Partner Joel Sorinsky said that Theory will show all games kicking off after 9 a.m., and brunch will be available on every game day.

The Globe Pub, 1934 W. Irving Park Rd., has long been a site for supporters of the Chicago Fire MLS team, including their Pub to Pitch shuttle service to and from home games. The Globe is currently remodeling, but General Manager Megan Kosmensky said that they’ll be reopening with upgraded screens and amenities the week before the Cup.

They will be showing every game, and will allow children accompanied by adults to come to viewings of the first round matches.

Fans can stay close to home with some residential buildings offering special viewing events. The Aqua in New East- side, 225 N. Columbus Drive, will open its media room—complete with theater seating—to residents for every match of the tournament.

Published June 5, 2018

Rules of the River: What you need to know to safely navigate the Chicago River

By Brian Zarley | Staff Writer

Patience, planning and keeping your head on a swivel—according to Chief Warrant Officer Matthew James, commanding officer of the Coast Guard Station Calumet Harbor, that’s what boaters need to remember to safely navigate the Chicago River.

That, and their life jackets. While the constant stream of boats can seem chaotic and intimidating, there is a method to the madness.

“If you basically picture it like a big highway, that’s generally what the river breaks down to,” said Captain Gabe Argumedo, who has been piloting Chicago’s First Lady on the river for 10 years, and working on it for 14. “The most important thing on the river is to keep that traffic flowing.”

Whether going up or down the river, boaters should keep to the right—or starboard—side. Slower traffic and smaller vessels should stay further right allowing the larger, faster commercial vessels to safely pass them. This also frees up the slightly deeper middle of the river for larger vessels. Unless in an emergency, boaters should not drop anchor. Keeping the boats moving helps ensure a safe and efficient flow for everyone on the river.

While traveling, boaters need to maintain a safe speed—the river is a no-wake zone—and pay attention to the flow of traffic around them. “You shouldn’t be going so fast that you can’t stop your vessel and avoid a collision if one became imminent,” James said.

The locks have an order for loading, Argumedo said. Commercials vessels are first priority, followed by government, recreational, and then cargo and fishing boats.

Boaters should wait to the north side of the turning basin for the lock chambers to clear. A system of signal lights—red means no traffic; yellow means commercial vessels may enter; green means recreational vessels can enter—tells boaters when to steam into the basin. Recreational boaters should be aware that the current is particularly strong this year, especially going from the river to the lake, due to the difference in water level, Argumedo said.

Life jackets are required once a boat enters the locks. The Coast Guard strongly recommends their use at all times, especially with the cold waters of the river and Lake Michigan. “We try to draw the equivalent between a life jacket and a seatbelt,” James said.

Navigation lights are crucial for safely traveling on the river, even with the bright lights of downtown. In fact, the glare and abundance of light sources can make spotting a boat—or a boat’s lights—even more difficult.

“They’re extremely important,” Argumedo said. “That is going to tell us exactly what kind of a boat, or what direction they are going, versus not having lights at all.”

With common sense, traffic awareness and vessel vigilance, boaters can make the most of their time on the water.

Published June 5, 2018

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